Per­form­ing arts li­brary’s fu­ture is in the bal­ance

Surrey Advertiser - - Front Page -

A CON­SUL­TA­TION has been launched to help de­cide the fate of Sur­rey Per­form­ing Arts Li­brary in a bid by the coun­cil to make sav­ings.

The li­brary, based at Den­bies Wine Es­tate, near Dork­ing, houses a col­lec­tion of mu­sic, theatre, or­ches­tral and dance ma­te­ri­als for pub­lic loan.

Sur­rey County Coun­cil has put for­ward three op­tions for the sur­vey, which opened on Septem­ber 4 and has been ex­tended to close on Oc­to­ber 1, ab­sorb­ing the col­lec­tions into Sur­rey’s other li­braries, trans­fer­ring own­er­ship of the li­brary to an­other or­gan­i­sa­tion or clos­ing the ser­vice.

The Lib­eral Democrats have launched a pe­ti­tion to save the li­brary and Leith Hill Mu­sic Fes­ti­val (LHMF) has called on the coun­cil to re­think its ap­proach.

A county coun­cil spokesman said: “Two op­tions in this con­sul­ta­tion would see the per­form­ing arts li­brary stock re­main avail­able to lo­cal peo­ple and groups.

“With the stock housed in an ex­ist­ing li­brary or man­aged by a com­mu­nity or­gan­i­sa­tion rather than, as cur­rently, in a sep­a­rate lo­ca­tion we would hope to save nearly £200,000 a year for the Sur­rey tax­payer.

“Many users are now choos­ing not to visit the li­brary, in­stead view­ing items elec­tron­i­cally from their lo­cal li­brary and then col­lect­ing them from there.”

“We know this is a ser­vice that is val­ued greatly by those who use it and what­ever op­tion is fi­nally cho­sen we will do ev­ery­thing pos­si­ble to make sure col­lec­tions are kept to­gether.

“As a coun­cil, we are faced with hav­ing to find more than £100m of sav­ings this year alone, given the huge fi­nan­cial pres­sures re­sult­ing from re­duc­ing gov­ern­ment grant and ris­ing de­mand for ser­vices such as chil­dren’s ser­vices and adult so­cial care.”

Gra­ham Aslet, LHMF chair­man, said: “While LHMF un­der­stands the de­mand for sav­ings, we are sad that Sur­rey County Coun­cil is con­sid­er­ing a rich and in­dis­pens­able pub­lic ser­vice like the Per­form­ing Arts Li­brary, which costs so lit­tle when com­pared to the coun­cil’s over­all bud­get, as a means for sav­ings.

“The li­brary con­trib­utes im­mea­sur­ably to the cul­tural life of the area and be­yond, by help­ing to knit so­cial in­volve­ment through mu­sic, drama and other arts, thereby keep­ing many in the com­mu­nity, es­pe­cially el­derly res­i­dents, ac­tive, mo­bile and thus in good health.”

Cllr David Good­win, Lib­eral Demo­crat spokesper­son on com­mu­ni­ties, said: “This ser­vice must be re­tained for the ben­e­fit of all Sur­rey res­i­dents. There has been lit­tle or no scru­tiny of this pro­posal by county coun­cil­lors and a two week con­sul­ta­tion pe­riod is to­tally in­ad­e­quate.

“These plans should be fully ex­am­ined by all county coun­cil­lors in Sur­rey be­fore any de­ci­sions are made. To lose such a spe­cial­ist ser­vice along­side many ded­i­cated and knowl­edge­able staff would be an act of great folly, and we will op­pose it.”

The li­brary holds a spe­cial­ist col­lec­tion and per­ma­nent dis­play cov­er­ing the life and works of Ralph Vaughan Wil­liams (1872-1958), com­mem­o­rat­ing his strong links with the area where he lived and where he com­posed some of his most im­por­tant pieces.

The coun­cil’s con­sul­ta­tion doc­u­ment can be ac­cessed via www.sur­r­eycc.gov.uk/ shap­ingspal

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